Bucs get serious about rebuilding, release Davin Joseph
Bucs coach Lovie Smith said he did not believe the Bucs got their money's worth from some offensive linemen last season. On Saturday he started doing something about it.
The Bucs released guard Davin Joseph, the team's first round pick in 2006 who started 99 games the past seven seasons. He was scheduled to make $6 million in 2014.
Joseph's release came after the Bucs failed in their attempt to trade their Pro Bowl guard and minutes after the the noon deadline for teams to begin contacting the representatives for free agents.
"I'm never surprised by anything that happens in this league," Joseph said. "I learned that seeing some other Tampa Bay greats get released. Their house, their rules. It's a new coaching staff and they want to bring in their guys and start something new."
Joseph, 30, was coming off a devastating knee injury last season and did not play well in 2013. So much of his game is based on power and movement and neither was the same as before the injury.
"It will be a different year for me and I'm looking forward to starting the season healthy and playing back to my old self next year," Joseph said. "It was tough last year, but with every hurdle you jump, you learn something new. I don't think it hurt my career. Had all the support from coach (Greg) Schiano and Mark Dominik and they did a great job of letting me come back, but it took some time. Now with a full off-season, I look forward to showing what I can do."
The Bucs already have more than $9 million on the salary cap committed at guard to Carl Nicks, who played in only two games last season before undergoing surgery on his left foot for MRSA. But he is doing much better and expected to play in 2014.
However, Joseph is not the only Bucs offensive lineman who is a candidate to either restructure his contract or be released. Left tackle Donald Penn, who gave up 11 sacks last season, counts more than $8 million against the salary cap. Center Jeremy Zuttah is scheduled to make $4.5 million this season.
Additional moves may be based on what offensive linemen the Bucs can attract during free agency.
Joseph, the 23rd overall pick from Oklahoma in 2006, has played his entire career in Tampa Bay and said he was looking forward to being a free agent. Former Bucs' general manager Bruce Allen, who drafted Joseph, has the same job with the Redskins. Dennis Hickey, the Bucs pro personnel director, is now the GM for the Dolphins.
"I really am. I can't lie and say I won't miss playing in Tampa," Joseph said. "But I look forward to the journey. It's an adventure. I'm sure I'll get an opportunity to play somewhere else. I saw LaGarrette (Blount) and Michael (Bennett) and Aqib (Talib) last year. I'm sure it hurt them leaving Tampa but they went on to play great ball and it was fun watching them go on that ride in the playoffs. I hope something like that can happen for me."
Joseph has been very active in the Tampa Bay community, forming Davin's Dream Team, a charitable foundation aimed at strenthening athletic and performing arts programs in public schools.
"Tampa is my home and alwys continue to work in Tampa," Joseph said. "No need to worry on that front. People change and it's a part of the business I'm in. Hopefully I will get an opportunity somewhere else."
By releasing Joseph, according to Overthecap.com, the Bucs will now be $24.1 million under the salary cap and moves them from having the 15th-most space to 11th.
"Decisions like this are never easy when it comes to parting ways with players such as Davin," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. "We thank Davin for his contributions on and off the field during his eight years in Tampa Bay and we wish him well in the future.
"Every decision we make during this time leading up to free agency is with the intention of improviong our roster and building a championship team once again."